Sunday, November 10, 2013

Highlands 101: Runner-up finish for Salmon/MPC Audi in New Zealand enduro

By Johan Laubscher

The Highlands 101 concluded the race weekend at Highlands Motorsport Park in New Zealand. Two Audis were entered for the three hour endurance race on Sunday.

The 2013 Australian GT Championship concluded with its finale at Highlands, hosting races one and two on Friday and Saturday. A special non-championship race was scheduled for Sunday, the Highlands 101, and many of the Australian GT competitors took part in this hundred and one lap endurance race.

Both Audis that were entered for the Australian GT races were also entered for the Highlands 101. Melbourne Performance Centre fielded the two cars for their customers. The #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra was driven by car-owner, Rod Salmon, and his co-drivers, Liam Talbot and Jason Bright. The #71 Equity-One Motorsport Audi R8 LMS had Dean Koustoumidis and Andrew McInnes behind the wheel. 

Qualifying was held early on Sunday morning and the highest placed Audi was the #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra in fifth place. The #71 R8 LMS qualified ninth.

The race featured an interesting starting procedure, said to be a modern take on the traditional Le Mans style start of years past. The competitors left the grid for two warm up laps, after which they headed back into the pits and parked in front of the garages in starting order, angled for exiting their pit-slot. The starting drivers all stayed inside of their vehicles and their teammates where lined up on the opposite side of the circuit. The drivers then ran to their cars and grabbed a ribbon that was attached to the rear of the car. Once the ribbon had been grabbed the individual cars were waved off with their pit lane speed limiters engaged. The racing began when they exited the pits in their release order based on the running start.

After the eventful starting procedure the race got underway. The #6 Audi R8 LMS ultra crew had progressed well during the race and were inside of the top three during the closing stages. They tried to close the gap to the leaders, but ultimately they finished second behind the race winning #7 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Fabian Coulthard and Tony Quinn. This rounded out an excellent weekend for the #6 MPC Audi, as Rod Salmon and Liam Talbot won the first Australian GT race and finished third in the second - and then the pair was joined by Jason Bright to finish second in the Highlands 101 on Sunday. The #71 Equity-One Motorsport Audi R8 LMS of Dean Koustoumidis and Andrew McInnes finished ninth in the Highlands 101.

Highlights from the race can be watched below. Video produced by Other Side Productions:

Photo credit: Australian GT